By Jon Leon (White Wizzard)
5. Watchtower’s Control and Resistance (1989)
Possibly the most over-the-top falsetto vocals of all time…Mixed with some of the most technically proficient playing I have ever heard. Everyone talks about Voivod, who are great, but I think this album is superior to anything any technical metal band did in the ’80s. On pure musicianship, it is hard to beat this one. Some will have a Geddy Lee-like effect in not being able to handle the high vocals. I love it and think it fits perfectly. A must-listen, if just to appreciate the arrangements and playing. Incredible.
4. Savatage’s Power of the Night (1985)
No album captures the essence of the middle ’80s feeling of pure metal better than this album. It is so damn good—it is amazing that this does not get mentioned more. Hall of the Mountain King got them more airplay on MTV and is the album more people talk about—but for my money, this album is the best that they ever did, and one of the best of the ’80s period. The opening track is just a perfect heavy metal song. Every tune rocks your ass off, and Criss Oliva (RIP) just destroys on lead guitar. Another huge influence on me as a kid. This band should have been bigger.
3. Wrathchild America’s Climbin’ the Walls (1989)
Man what a bad-ass band these guys were. Originally called Wrathchild, and then sued by a shit glam band that nobody knew about from the UK for the name. They had to add the “America” to the name, which just sucks. What a fucking amazing album this is. “Smothered Life” is such a winner. Every song kills. Shannon Larkin is just an insane drummer. Sadly after this album and the fantastic follow up 3-D, they changed their name to Souls at Zero and changed their sound. And gave up after. As a wide-eyed, naive young pup, I went to see Souls at Zero right before they split in Palo Alto, CA–and right after, Shannon Larkin joined Ugly Kid Joe, HORRIBLE! I asked Brad the bassist/singer why the hell Shannon joined that horrendous band (whom they were opening for that night, WTF?), and he just hung his head and said “I don’t know” and went to the table to eat his catering. He looked so bummed. They played to 10 people, and it was depressing. They were my heroes in my early days of discovering music, and sadly never were to be seen again. Well except for Larkin, who joined Godsmack. Fuck you, Shannon! You left the best band you were ever in. Miss these guys. Get both Wrathchild America albums, and Souls at Zero’s self-titled album, if you can find them (all out of print, I think). Atlantic did not push them, and after Shannon left, it was over. RIP one of the greatest bands to never make it. Huge influence.
2. Blue Murder’s Blue Murder (1989)
John Sykes went and recorded a masterpiece with this album, and then nobody noticed. [Agreed—CD] I think the pants they chose to wear may have did them in, along with the bass player’s haircut. It was the later ’80s and towards the end of metal. They looked like a lot of the idiots in hair metal and may not have been taken as seriously as they should have been. Every song is strong. The fretless bass adds an original feel and touch. It is a pure crime that this album is not more known and appreciated. Go buy it and turn it up, LOUD.
1. Crimson Glory’s Transcendence (1988)
Hauntingly beautiful album. Just stunning. Midnight is criminally overlooked in the mainstream. His vocal performance on this album is only beaten out by Geoff Tate on Mindcrime for the greatest of all time on any metal album, in my opinion. The rest of the band is amazing as well. Fantastic arrangements and sonic landscapes. Purely ahead of their time. Power metal owes everything to “Red Sharks”. The title ballad is breathtaking with harmonies at the end that sound like Scorpions circa In Trance (1975). The guitar tones and playing are mesmerizing. Simply the greatest obscure metal album of the ’80s. Go get it and play it over and over.
** White Wizzard’s new album, The Devil’s Cut, is out now on Century Media/Earache Records. It’s available HERE. Or, you can figure how to reunite (officially) George Lynch, Don Dokken, Jeff Pilson, and Mick Brown, have them put out an album like Tooth and Nail, and go on tour without a single problem. Which offer to you want, kind spandex-loving sirs?